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FAQ: What Kinds of Questions Do Anthropologists Ask?

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One question I am often asked is, what kinds of questions do Anthropologists ask? This is hard to answer since Anthropology contains several fields and sub-fields, all dealing with different topics. But in general, Anthropologists ask all sorts of questions about people! Anthropology is the study of people, in all times and in all places. There are 4 fields in Anthropology, and each asks different types of questions. Here are just a few examples:

Cultural Anthropology (the study of human cultures)

  • Why do people differ in their beliefs and behaviors?
  • Why is there ethnic conflict in the world?
  • What is life like in a simpler society?
  • What are the different kinds of economic systems found around the world?
  • How are families formed in other cultures?
  • Why do societies construct social hierarchies?

Physical Anthropology (the study of the human body)

  • Were ancient human bodies different from ours?
  • How have humans evolved?
  • Why are people all different, physically?
  • What kind of diversity is found in humans?
  • How have humans adapted to their different environments?
  • What do we know about human genetic variation?

Archaeology (the study of what humans left behind)

  • What did ancient people eat?
  • How did ancient people make and use tools?
  • What contact did ancient people have with other groups?
  • What was the environment like that ancient people lived in?
  • What were ancient people like?
  • What illnesses did ancient people get?

Linguistics (the study of human language)

  • How do people learn languages?
  • What languages are disappearing and why?
  • How are languages related to each other?
  • Do men and women speak differently?
  • How is language related to race and ethnicity?
  • How is language related to social class?

Hope this list of the kinds of questions Anthropologists ask helps you understand more about the breadth of the field of Anthropology. What questions about your world are YOU interested in? What branch of Anthropology would it fall under? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

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